Multiemployer pension funds' equity portfolios performed in line with those of corporate and public funds in 1998, and their fixed-income investments performed better than those of corporate and public funds, new data show.
The median equity return of plans in the Segal Advisors Multiemployer Universe for 1998 was 19.1%, while corporate plans had a median return of 19.02% and public plans had a median return of 18.9%. (The numbers for corporate and public plans were supplied by Callan Associates, San Francisco.)
All three groups significantly underperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, which yielded a 28.6% return for the year.
John Demairo, who oversees the survey for Segal, said, "it's very encouraging that the multiemployer funds performed in line with corporate and public funds. At times people think the multiemployer plans don't do as well, but this shows that the process of selecting managers and arranging investment programs with a diversity of styles are the same, regardless of the plan sponsor type."
All three groups had significantly lower median equity returns in 1998 than in 1997, when multiemployer plans hit 28.3%; corporate equity funds, 28.9%; and public funds, 28.9%.
In the fixed-income portion of the report, which is formally called the Survey of the Universe of Multiemployer Pension Funds' Investment Performance, multiemployer funds outperformed corporate and public funds in 1998. The multiemployer median fixed-income return was 9.2% for the year, while the median corporate return was 8.8% and the median public fund return, 8.6%.
For multiemployer funds the 1998 median fixed-income return was actually higher than that of the Lehman Aggregate Bond index, which returned 8.7% for the year; and was close to the 1997 median return of 9.6%.
However, the corporate and public funds' median fixed-income returns were significantly below those of 1997. The median corporate return in 1997 was 10.1%, while the median public fund fixed-income return was 9.9% for the year.
"The multiemployer (fixed-income) plans tend to have higher quality investments," than do corporate and public funds, Mr. Demairo said. "The multiemployer funds have more government-oriented portfolios, with less corporate exposure."